Rent went up sharply along the Wasatch Front in 2022. The data tell different stories about 2023.

A local brokerage report shows a one-year decrease, but other sources show rent continued to rise in the greater Salt Lake area.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Apartments in Post District Residences were among a few thousand units to become available in 2023. Thousands more are expected to come online in 2024, and an expert says those new units will keep the average rent from spiking for a couple of years.

Renters in the Salt Lake City area paid more to their landlords in 2023 than they paid two years earlier, according to data from a Utah brokerage firm, two apartment-finding websites and the federal government.

What those sources don’t agree on is whether 2023 rents along the Wasatch Front were higher or lower than what people paid in 2022.

A brokerage report from CBRE shows rent in 2023 was up from 2021, but down compared to 2022 in most cities in Salt Lake County.

Yet data from Rent.com, Zillow and the federal government show rent consistently on the rise, even amid an increase in apartment construction.

The market is slightly down or flat across most of the Wasatch Front, said Dejan Eskic, a senior research fellow at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute who focuses on housing.

Eskic said he expects that to remain true for a couple more years, as thousands of units open in new apartment complexes in Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Utah counties.

But Paul Smith, executive director of the Rental Housing Association of Utah, agrees with the national sources that show rents spiking again.

Last year was a settling year after big increases, he said, and 2024 is back to the trajectory set by a lack of housing.

Local report shows rent decreased or stayed mostly flat

Rent in 2023 was up from 2021 in all but five cities across the Wasatch Front, based on a report from CBRE on the multifamily market in the Wasatch Front.

But that report shows rent in 2023 was down — not up — in most cities compared to 2022.

CBRE data going back to 2013 shows rent generally increased an average of 6% along the Wasatch Front until 2020, when it increased by 1% in Salt Lake and Utah counties, by 3% in Davis County and by 5% in Weber County.

Rent then skyrocketed in 2021, increasing by at least 19% in all four counties.

A moderate increase returned in 2022, and then rent decreased or stayed about even in 2023.

In Salt Lake County as a whole, rent was down about 1% last compared to 2022, according to that report. CBRE also indicates a 2.4% two-year drop in rent in Davis County, mostly driven by a 9.1% decrease in rents in Layton.

The report does show one-year increases in Utah and Weber counties, of 0.3% and 1.2%, respectively.

Other sources show a continued spike

Three other data sources — Rent.com, Zillow and the federal government — show median or average rents increasing in Salt Lake City and the greater Salt Lake area despite a construction boom, particularly in Salt Lake City, where cranes still dot the skyline.

Data from Rent.com and Zillow are based on listings on those sites, and numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are estimates.

Among 50 metropolitan areas for which Rent.com compiles data, Salt Lake City was one of 26 with a two-year spike in rent, 35 with a one-year increase and 33 with a monthly increase.

The data shows Salt Lake City rent is up 5.7% over Feb. 1, 2022, 0.6% compared to Feb. 1, 2023, and 1.4% compared to New Year’s Day.

Rent.com does not include data for other metropolitan areas in Utah.

Zillow goes into more detail with thousands of cities, not just metro areas, and measures the average market rent as of the end of the month.

According to that data, rent is up compared to two years ago in Ogden, Provo, Orem, Millcreek, South Salt Lake, West Valley City, Salt Lake City, Sandy, West Jordan, St. George and Lehi.

The data also show rent is up annually in Ogden, Provo, Orem, Millcreek, West Valley City, Salt Lake City, West Jordan, St. George and Lehi — but down year-over-year in South Salt Lake and Sandy.

Zillow also shows rent is up since January in Provo, Salt Lake City, Sandy, West Jordan and Lehi — but down month-over-month in Ogden, Orem, Millcreek, South Salt Lake, West Valley City and St. George.

Compared to Rent.com, Zillow shows a more pronounced spike in Salt Lake City, except for the monthly increase. The data shows a 7.5% two-year jump, a 2.7% one-year increase and a 0.6% increase month over month.

Finally, data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows a yearly increase in median rent across all types of units in seven metropolitan areas in Utah — Logan, Ogden-Clearfield, Box Elder County, Provo-Orem, St. George, Salt Lake City and Tooele County.

The largest increases are in Logan and St. George, which had double-digit increases in median rent for units from studios to four-bedroom apartments between 2023 and 2024.

CBRE data ‘better and timelier’

Smith’s observations have matched the data based on listings and estimates, with big increases in 2021 and 2022 that have leveled back to normal hikes in 2023 and 2024.

“Any time you have a couple of years with big increases, you usually have a settling year after,” he said.

That settling year was 2023, he said, with 2024 getting back to typical increases of 5% and 7% as the housing supply struggles to keep up with demand.

But the current construction boom is a case of “overbuilding,” Eskic said, with 7,300 units expected to come online this year, compared to an average somewhere in the mid-3,000s in previous years.

He said he doesn’t expect to see a rent spike again until 2026 or 2027, because of all the ongoing construction.

Eskic said he wasn’t sure why the other sources show increases, but said the CBRE data is based on people calling most apartment buildings in the market and asking them about vacant units and rents.

That results in “much better and timelier data,” he said.

While home prices are easy to track, Eskic said, rent is “kind of like the Wild West” because prices are based on listings, not what tenants are actually paying after concessions.

As of December, Salt Lake City had the highest portion of rental listings with at least one concession among the country’s 50 largest rental markets, according to Zillow data.

Landlord advice for renters

Smith advised renters to work to grow their income by 5% to 7% a year to cover inflation, including rent increases.

He said people who are struggling to meet that should look to four safety nets before talking to their landlord:

  • Personal resources, such as working more hours, getting a loan or selling pricier items — such as a big-screen television or four-wheeler.

  • Friends and family.

  • Churches, many of which, Smith said, will help people by giving them funds for one month of rent.

  • Community and government resources — including such nonprofits as Utah Community Action, and some counties that have rental assistance funds.

If people do need to negotiate with their landlord, Smith said, they should try to find a middle ground.

As a landlord, Smith said he “would work with someone who’s willing to negotiate.”

Renters, he said, should stress they would like to stay and let their landlord know what they could afford to pay if they can’t make the full increase fit into their budget.

Megan Banta is The Salt Lake Tribune’s data enterprise reporter, a philanthropically supported position. The Tribune retains control over all editorial decisions.

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